Dev Anand Kalpana Kartik

Requiem for a nightingale…

Woke up today with a different feeling of inexplicable heaviness. The weather was fine and I had slept well. Aruna told me it is 50 years today.

I had got introduced to the voice in the early 60s in Hakimpet itself. The voice is so different from the then reigning Prima Donnas of Bollywood, it stood out as unique. To me, it is truly the most versatile female singer I’ve heard in Bollywood, the famous siblings included. The voice could range from being pious in prayer to light and frothy, to sexy and seductive in a trice and be convincing in each of its avtaars. The lady who came from a rich Zamindar family from Faridpur and the family was forced to leave all the land and wealth behind thanks to the peaceful persuasion from the pure and fled with their lives due to the indescribable atrocities perpetrated by the usual suspects in the area. The family moved via Assam and Calcutta to Bombay. Her singing was actually accidentally overheard by a musician who happened to be passing by on the street and he was so enchanted by her voice that he actually walked upstairs, knocked on the door and persuaded the father to let the young girl to sing in movies. K. Hanuman Prasad took Geeta under his patronage, trained and groomed her in singing and later launched her into singing for movies. In 1946, she got the first break with an opportunity to sing in the mythological film Bhakta Pralhad for which Prasad was the music director. She was given two lines to sing for two songs. She was not yet sixteen. The dulcet, unique voice was noticed by many in the industry and more offers followed. She was then known as Geeta Ghosh Roychowdhury or just as Geeta Roy. A star was born. She met the handsome actor Guru Dutt , fell in love and married him. The married name is what we know her by, Geeta Dutt.

This is an early 50s song from the film noir, Baazi. It is during the making of this movie in the early 50s that Geeta And Guru Dutt met, fell in love and married soon after.

The flamboyant playboy of the time Dev Anand with the lady who would become his wife, Kalpana Kartik are seen in the song, with music by Sachindev Dev Burman and lyrics by Sahir Ludhiyanvi (who hadn’t yet become swollen headed enough to start demanding more money than the music directors and/or leading singers)

Geeta Dutt unfortunately had a rather turbulent marital life and the unhappiness snuffed out both lives: Guru Dutt committed suicide in 1964 and had driven Geeta Dutt to neglect her singing and turn to Bacchus for solace ( a story repeated with the tragic life of the on-screen tragedienne Meena Kumari also of Bangla lineage) which led to an early demise a few months short of her 42nd birthday. Her swansong, Anubhav has truly the most poignant songs ever sung by her that tell us what a gem the base Indian threw away.

The words of John Greenleaf Whittier resonate , most aptly for Geeta Dutt‘s sadly underrealized genius,

 For of all sad words of tongue or pen,The saddest are these: “It might have been!” 

50 years since she made the transition but her voice continues to enchant and entice, enthrall and entrap, always cherished and celebrated, never (can be) forgotten. Stay healthy, folks as I remember my most favourite singer the nightingale who sang a tad too briefly in my lifetime.

Lata Love songs Mohammad Rafi Sad Film Songs

Truly unforgettable….

I remembered this song after many a month. One of the great thespian Ashok Kumar‘s most challenging roles where the make up actually was designed to make him look ugly. A wonderful combination of the combined geniuses of Sachindev Burmanda , Shailendra , Rafisaab and Lata Mangeshkar. The movie Meri Soorat Teri Aankhein was directed by RK Rakhan and wonderfully photographed in monochrome. The movie was actually edited by a giant of Hindi Films, who like an institution trained and groomed multiple greats of the industry: Bimal Roy. It was based on a Bangla novel, Ulka by Nihar Ranjan Gupta.

I have written about the song before but like every lovely work of art, one thinks of nuances one may not have captured earlier. This composition in Pilu and Taal Dadra is a testament to Burmanda’s genius. From the first notes of the sitar, and then an assortment of other instruments including the Santoor and Baansuri, (suspect the usual suspects there) & you’re transported to auditory bliss. Rafisaab takes over with a touch of pathos and loneliness that tears me up. A master of emotive expressions through his voice, Rafisaab brings in an unimaginable set of feelings into the song, it is truly amazing.

I found it amusing the movie has been shot off the old Mumbai- Pune highway. The need for an apt locale has been thrown out of the window in the current era of bigger and more in-your-face productions that throw credibility away. You will see the same 3 minute song being picturized everywhere from Sahara to Kashmir to Switzerland and Iceland.

This song also has a solo version by Rafisaab, a sadder version, pictured later in the movie. That is even more moving.

A wonderful song I recalled from a movie released nearly 60 years ago. Stay safe, folks, stay happy and healthy. Join me at 11.20 am for the 26th of my fortnightly shows on music on AIR Delhi FM Gold. I will showcase a famous songwriter/ singer whose skills I am in awe of

Asha Bhosale Film Ghazal Mohammad Rafi Sad Film Songs

Tired of life…

Pyaasa was the very first Guru Dutt movie with Anju when I had just entered my teens. I was not aware of Guru Dutt’s serious movies and Anju told me of the Guru Dutt week they were having at Topiwala theater in Goregaon. So we went down (walked down from home) & saw the movie. It was one of three Guru Dutt movies I saw that week. Pyaasa the story of a sensitive poet who finds himself unappreciated by most of those that he meets, and finds emotional succour from the unlikeliest of people (Gulabo, the streetwalker with the heart of Gold), who buys his poetry from the raddiwala, loves it and the two actually meet when she recites a poem he has written. The movie has outstanding acting by Guru Dutt (as Vijay), Waheeda Rehman (as Gulabo), Mala Sinha (as the lady who has been very much in love with Vijay but who marries a rich publisher, Rehman), Mehmood and Johnny Walker. Of all these, the surprise in the pack undoubtedly is Mehmood, who unfortunately got stuck to comic roles later in life and never got an opportunity to actually show the entire spectrum of his acting prowess.

The movie has truly eternal music by the man who chose to be an Emperor and rule the hearts and minds of an entire country, rather than the King of a small territory, Sachin Dev Burmanda, who gave up every material possession for the love of music. His creativity is on resplendent display in the movie. Sahir Ludhiyanavi wrote the lyrics (as he had not yet had the famous fallout with Burmanda). Rafisaab is at his very best: singing all across the spectrum from Jinhe naaz hai Hind par wo kahan hain to Sar jo tera chakraye and a few romantic ones as well.

Look at this exquisite number. Sahir’s skilled wordcraft on show that is matched and even embellished by Rafisaab’s divine voice that recites the poetry , rather than singing.

The emoting by both Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha who on hearing a familiar voice, looks up, startled, from the piece she is reading from the magazine, is just awesome. They let their faces and eyes do the talking, captured wonderfully by Guru Dutt’s favourite lensman, V K Murthy who was an unquestioned wizard with an Arriflex and monochrome film.

तंग आ चुके हैं कशमकश-ए-ज़िंदगी से हम

ठुकरा न दें जहाँ को कहीं बे-दिली से हम

हम ग़मज़दा हैं, लाएं कहाँ से खुशी के गीत,

देंगे वहीं जो पाएँगे इस ज़िन्दगी से हम..

मायूसी-ए-मआल-ए-मोहब्बत न पूछिए

अपनों से पेश आए हैं बेगानगी से हम

लो आज हम ने तोड़ दिया रिश्ता-ए-उमीद

लो अब कभी गिला न करेंगे किसी से हम

उभरेंगे एक बार अभी दिल के वलवले

गो (माना के )दब गए हैं बार-ए-ग़म-ए-ज़िंदगी से हम

गर ज़िंदगी में मिल गए फिर इत्तिफ़ाक़ से

पूछेंगे अपना हाल तिरी बेबसी से हम

अल्लाह-रे फ़रेब-ए-मशिय्यत कि आज तक

दुनिया के ज़ुल्म सहते रहे ख़ामुशी से हम

Amazing poetry, really unfair to classify Sahir as a mere lyricist. Some words some might have difficulty understanding/ appreciating: कशमकश-ए-ज़िंदगी: struggle of life मायूसी-ए-मआल-ए-मोहब्बत: sorrow of consequence of love, रिश्ता-ए-उमीद: आशा का धागा, thread of hope, वलवले: शोरगुल, आवेश, बार-ए-ग़म-ए-ज़िंदगी: the burden of sorrow of life फ़रेब-ए-मशिय्यत: divine deception

The trio ideally suited to elevate a simple recital to such sublime heights pull off the near impossible. Rafisaab, Sahir, and Burmanda’s minimalistic composition ….

The same ghazal was set to tune by Sahir’s great friend, Datta Naik, ( aka N Datta) for Light House which starred Ashok Kumar and Nutan. This has been sung beautifully by Asha Bhosle. Take a listen:–3ROg

Those were the days of effective simplicity. Of the KISS philosophy. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Today you will have such a song being shot in a sequence that takes you through countries from Iceland to Namibia to Tasmania to Fiji to Lesotho with a different troupe of male and female dancers voyeuristically ogling the lead pair while clothed in some curtain cloth all the time dancing in unison to rather suggestive steps and gesticulations. That is if you find a so called lyricist to write actual poetry rather than string along a random set of words, some utterly meaningless, just because they happen to rhyme and can fit a plagiarized tune from Ghana/Korea/Indonesia/Mali (ask Annu Malik or Preetam and their ilk)

Stay happy and healthy, folks. Take care in the blazing summer. Hydrate yourself well, especially if you are consuming ground water from borewells , lest you land up with a few stones because you concentrated body effluents.